With a 50-50 match of city and public funds, a new library is finally a possibility.
During Tuesday night's joint meeting with the library advisory board and planning and development committee, Mayor Rusty Jergins recommended a proposal be presented to the full council to go forward with plans for a new facility. Since the city owns the Optimist/Jaycee Park, he suggested the site be considered along with other locations pointed out by Hidell and Associates.
"Once final figures are presented, then grant research, donation possibilities, and other available opportunities will allow the authorization of a capital campaign," Jergins said.
He said he felt that with other items on the agenda before the council, it was doubtful that a bond issue would pass.
The council and library advisory board committee members discussed the issues, concerns, strengths, and weaknesses of decisions to be made in the coming work sessions.
Dr. Malcolm Cross, council liaison to the library advisory board, said there was a need for a new library. He said there are two things that must be considered — space to meet existing needs and changes in the population.
"There should be usage to grow with the population growth," he said. "Changes in tastes and opinions of functions of the library are important in this decision."
Cross said final designs should be for population adaptability and use.
Council member Pat Shelbourne said Hidell and Associates did not indicate any land price in its estimates.
"There was no ongoing cost for maintenance or staffing included," Shelborne said. "An adjustment is also needed for furnishings, equipment, and technology."
Council member Alan Nash agreed that specific layouts with specific features should be considered in an updated plan.
Major Jergins said he would request the council to ask Hidell and Associates to make the adjustments.
Citizen Joe Sawyer told the committee the most important building in a city is the library.
"Education, libraries, and democracy work together," he said. "It is a place to gather and share ideas and will be utilized all day."
City Administrator Mark Kaiser asked the board members if there was still a desire to remain downtown, as previously indicated.
Patricia Maxey, library board director, said in a large city the library is traditionally downtown.
"However," she said, "there is not enough room to do what we want where we are."
Advisory board members Eloise Horak and Robert Walker concurred.
"Activities such as writing contests require additional space," Horak said. "There is no extra space to provide the community with a variety."
Walker said many use the library to just sit, hold a book, and read. "Presently, there are only eight chairs," he said. "Friends of the Library have donated furnishings, but, again, that takes space. Much more could be offered to the community than is presently available."
SHERRY BOARDMAN is a staff writer for the Empire-Tribune and can be reached at email@example.com or 254-965-3124, ext. 229.